October 03, 2021

Offbeat Offline: August-September 2021

Welcome to Offbeat Offline, where I bring you up-to-date with what went on in my life during the month just gone, give you a sneak peek of my next shenanigans, and share my favourite posts of late!

For this first installment, I'm going to recap both my September and my August, because STUFF HAPPENED (mind you, when STUFF HAPPENS to me, is generally BAD/ANNOYING STUFF™). Sorry in advance for the long post...especially the hair part. Unfortunately, it couldn't be explained in less words (I'm writing this premise after completing my post). I promise it's a one-timer...

📚 READER'S PERMIT. At the end of August, I realised there was no way for me to be able to write long reviews for each and every book (though I read very selected few compared to most people). So I basically decided to write only mini reviews for books under 3 stars, novellas, short stories and anthologies (with some caveats - see this post). Since then I've read a few Seanan McGuire novellas without obligations (I've posted their minis on Goodreads for now - they'll be grouped into a Review Morsels post on the blog later) and crossed a few old books from my to-be-reviewed-in-full list. More reading, less stress. It's been glorious.

In the meantime, I've been given access to/sent an ecopy of a YA thriller (Seven Dirty Secrets by Natalie D. Richards), a genre-crossing adult collection (Unexpected Places to Fall From, Unexpected Places to Land by Malcolm Devlin) and an adult urban fantasy (Swashbucklers by Dan Hanks). For those, I cancelled my usual Back to Black - Beating the Halloween Backlist series this year...but at least they fit the mood LOL. Reviews to come this month.

😱 TU QUOQUE BLOGGER? After my Twitter debacle, I thought I'd earned a little quiet time - but no way. On August 3rd, I got an email from Blogger saying that my blog had been removed for phishing, and I was supposed to appeal to try and get it back. I just about had a heart attack, because of course, you can still be a blogger without Twitter, but you, um, need an actual blog. Plus I couldn't access my own content to do a backup (though I had an old one, and my most recent posts could have been retrieved from my own archive - but I'd have had to build a new blog from scratch!!! after almost 9 years!!!). Luckily, it turned out to be a false positive created by automated spam detection (???), and I got my blog back in a few hours. Whatever - I was scared out of my wits, and DID I DESERVE THAT, ON TOP OF EVERYTHING??? 😭 🤬

💇‍♀️ HAIRY SITUATIONS. OK, a bit of backstory here - sorry in advance for my being lengthy. I've been perming my hair once a year since 1983 (like my avatar, but much curlier), under two hairdressers (the latter had been the former's apprentice), and I've always had a GORGEOUS afro. I used to perm my hair in May, then trim the top in September to minimise the flat effect due to 4 cm (1,5 inches) of straight hair regrowth surrounded by the curls that were originally on top. So my hairdressers would layer-cut my curly ends a little, starting at the top, to give my haircut the right shape and volume again for a while more - but I'd still retain about an inch of curly ends on top (scaling up to a couple of inches or more on the longer hair). Then I'd let my hair grow until it was time to perm it again the following year (except for the bangs, that I'd get touched upon mid-year). So, come May again, I'd find myself with 5 inches of straight regrowth, but my hair would look nice nevertheless. Then I'd go in for a new perm, the old ends would get cut, and everything would start anew.

Now, I've been perming my hair at another place for 5 years (after my old hairdressers both retired), and they use the right curlers (and the right amount of them), but other than that, it's a recurring nightmare. EVERY TIME I get a perm, a few locks don't take AT ALL (or they do, but very blandly) and need to be redone immediately. Also, this year, after only 3 months, I looked like I had 2-2,5 inches of straight regrowth. Instead of fixing the haircut as usual (see above), I had to perm the top and bangs again (unprecedented!), because if I had trimmed their very ends - which was badly needed, because the top of my head looked flat - I would have been left with only straight/semi-straight hair in that area. Then the hairdresser proceeded onto BARELY trimming the side hair to finish the cut, and I was left with a number of semi-straight locks in that area too, so I had to re-perm the sides as well!!! And it's not like my hairdresser noticed - I had to point it out to her and ask for a touch-up...

Now, aside from the time, money and stomach-aches involved, the thing that makes me feel like screaming the most is, my hairdresser is either trying to convince me that 1) the "straight hair" I see isn't really straight (see above) or 2) the reason why the roots and even the middle portion don't get curly anymore is that I have longer hair now than when I first came to her salon (so, is it one or the other?). Sorry, but I call bullshit. As of now (5 months after getting the original perm), my hair are barely past my nape, so you can do the math. And even if it had been longer when I went in for the May perm, I might have gotten slightly looser curls at the roots, as opposed to NO CURLS. Also, the VERY SHORT locks of my bangs and top were in the same state as the longer hair before I got them re-permed last month, as in, only curled at the very end (and one month after the new perm, they already look like it happened 3 months ago instead).

What I think is, there's a problem with the primer application to begin with (with close to a hundred curlers, you should be extra careful to have it reaching every single lock by massaging it into the hair...not simply drop it around in spades and hope it goes where it should), plus the curlers should be tightened at the roots...both things that my old hairdressers did and this one doesn't. Also, it might be that the primer she uses isn't strong enough for the kind of perm I want (yep, I have coloured hair too, so she uses a type 2, which is the recommended article - but I'm positive my old hairdressers used a different brand/type, and I was colouring my hair already back then). I tried to steer her in the right direction, but of course, no one wants to get told how to do their job. I could try to find a new hairdresser, but...I'm afraid things might get worse. Not to mention, the modern salons hardly do afros, that I know of. It's not easy to find someone who can do this type of perm and is WILLING to. And this isn't a simple hairdo for me - it's the physical embodiment of what I am inside. I'm not going to change it. It would be like cutting off a part of me or getting a new face/body. One day I'll have to find someone else to do my hair anyway, because this person is ten years my elder and inching close to retirement...but for now, I'm staying. I'm not good with change...

😫 OLD BONES. The summer was the pits for me, especially August...and even a good part of September. My legs hurt, and some nights I had to do a "funny" dance in my bed before I got asleep. The heat wasn't my friend - nor it was the hubs' - when it came to cooking/eating warm food either. We've been living on cold cuts, stuffed tomatoes, simple pan-seared food (like hamburgers or eggs), even fruit + ice cream. Haute cuisine, you know. Thank goodness it's over.

At the end of August, I woke up to a trigger finger in my left thumb (for the record, I'm not even left-handed). Basically, I can't bend it, or pain occurs and it snaps back. I am now listed for surgery, which should happen within the month. It's a small thing really (or it should be), and at least my dominant hand is still working, but...again, couldn't I be spared for once???

The only good pieces of news are, my latest blood-work turned out better than the previous one, and my thrombosis is slowly healing (I'm still under blood-thinners for now).

🏠 DOOR TO HELL. Remember my new front door, the one that took forever to get installed? I didn't like the way they had applied one of the jambs, so they sent someone to dismantle it, strip off the silicone, glue it back and do a better finishing - but go figure, the jamb broke. They said it would take two weeks to get a replacement, but it took TWO DARNED MONTHS and multiple phone calls. And now we're still waiting for them to get us new handles for all our doors...because the bathroom one is damaged, but that handle model has been discontinued, so in order to change ONE handle we have to buy SEVEN of them (five for the actual rooms, one for replacement, and a matching one for the front door, which came with a standard one) 🤬.

🚗 WE'RE CALLING HER "CHRISTINE". Remember the Stephen King book about a possessed car? I swear, each and every one of ours is cut from the same cloth. What happened this time? My husband drives a car with an automatic clutch, for disability reasons, and the nearest repair shop that takes care of vehicles for persons with reduced mobility is 44 miles away. The automatic clutch is made from 3 different units. One day it started going "beep beep" when he set the car in motion (not every time, but often)...basically, it was failing to make proper contact...so he got it checked, but nothing came of it. The shop procured a second-hand dashboard control unit and tried it (which meant a second 88 miles trip), but the problem stayed. So they procured a different second-hand control unit (this one goes under the passenger's front seat), and my husband traveled 88 miles again to have it installed. Luckily, this one seems to be working. But the trips and the money 😭.




That's it for now! Again, sorry for the long post, but it was two months' worth of stuff, plus a lot of hair rambling (which won't happen again...I can always redirect you to this post in the future LOL).

So, what were your highs/lows in the past month?


  1. Wow! I hope the surgery for your finger goes well and gives you some relief. But the hair! It's such a nightmare finding someone new. I stopped perming my hair when I moved to Florida (so much humidity!) in 1995, but I totally understand your struggle. Good luck with that! At least your mini-review plan is working well for you.

    1. "At least your mini-review plan is working well for you."
      LOL, it's probably the only thing that's working well right now!

      Thank you for listening to my hair lamentations with a sympathetic ear. I'm aware it was SO MUCH...

  2. Oh my gosh you of all people do NOT deserve a scare like that after Twitter's f*ckery (excuse my language but what else to call it?). I'm so glad it was a false alarm but ... yeah. I'm going to back up my blog right now lol. But seriously- yeah you don't deserve that and I hope you don't have any more trouble. And yay for mini- reviews. Long reviews take a lot of work and I don't blame you for mixing it up!

    I'm sorry to hear too about the hair thing. Hopefully your hairdressr will be willing to listen and adjust her expectations so she can get your hair the way you want it.

    Ooh is that the same Natalie Richards who did Five Total strangers? I'll have to go look...

    1. Us bloggers live dangerously 😲 😂. For real...we're always an inch away from losing our content (unless we have a domain blog, but even then...servers can crash, hackers can mess with it...).

      Thank you for not bailing on me after my hair rant LOL.

      "Ooh is that the same Natalie Richards who did Five Total strangers?"
      Yep! Apparently, she likes titles with numbers LOL. Spoiler though...I only gave this one 3 stars...

  3. GIANT HUGS! Sorry so much has been negative the past couple of months. We are "here" for you.

    I don't know if I told you, but that same thing happened to my blog many years ago. I was using blogger, and I got an email saying my blog was spam and IT WAS GONE! Luckily, after lots of tears, emails, etc., I got it back. Sounds like the same thing you went through. But it was at that point I decided to pay someone to move my site to my own domain, etc. I didn't want to go through that again. I hope you don't have to!

    1. Giant thank you for the giant hugs!

      I didn't know you went through such a nightmare with your blog! At least, in my case, I got immediately redirected to a page that said they were aware it must be "a false positive created by automated spam detection" and my blog should be back in a few hours (it turned out it wasn't the only one affected)...I can't even imagine being in your shoes (incidentally, the same thing happened to my friend Carrie with Tumblr this summer. She got her blog back after WEEKS of appealing). Paying isn't an option for me right now. Maybe one day...

  4. A lot to cover here lol. The blog issue sounds terrifying, and I'm glad it was just a mistake that got fixed. It sounds like it might be worth finding a new hairdresser though. The car problems and heat and door issues also sound like a nightmare. Yikes, sorry it's been such a rough couple months. I hope you'll be able to find a hairdresser who knows what they're doing better than this one, and also that your hand surgery goes well!

    1. Yeah, a lot to cover...while I was writing I was like, I'm boring them to death LOL. But I had to get that stuff off my chest, and I totally understand when my blogger friends do the same, so I hoped I'd be forgiven 😉. Thank you for your well wishes!

  5. I do hope the surgery goes well and you heal quickly. I have several things I should have surgery on right now but I react so badly to anesthesia that I've opted not to have any more surgery unless it's a life saving emergency and even then I might re-think it. lol

    I had a perm to my hair once. Once was enough. But my hair was down to the small of my back and it took several hours to roll my hair into the curlers. By that time my neck was hurting so bad from her pulling my hair, I wanted to go home and call it quits. But the waves I got really looked nice for about a year. I wish you luck with the salon.

    1. "I react so badly to anesthesia that I've opted not to have any more surgery unless it's a life saving emergency and even then I might re-think it"
      Uh. That majorly sucks. I've only had surgery once when I was a kid (tonsils), so I don't really know what to expect LOL.

      It sounds like your hairdresser knew what she was doing! With long hair like that, it takes skills. When your head (or neck, for long hair) hurt, it's a sign that they're rolling your hair the right way. And a perm SHOULD last until you cut it. I don't understand what happens here.

      Thank you!

  6. Your blog was removed for phishing? That sounds a bit scary and annoying. That reminds, I really should backup my blog too which I used to do but I have gotten lazy on that.

    I remember a day (a few months ago I think) where certain Blogger blogs are considered harmful content, mine included, so readers would get this notice that the blog is harmful (like phishing) instead of seeing the blog. I was frantic for a whole day because there was nothing to be done but then the next day, it was all fine. Google didn't mentioned anything about it (I had to look it up and found only one mention about it) but it was really weird and annoying. Glitches like that happens but why don't they say something about it, like an explanation or even an excuse but I guess since it lasted only several hours, it didn't warrant a note.

    I don't have my hair done at a hair dresser but I can understand the stress of not having something done right. I think hair is important as it is part of our appearance. It sounds to me your hair dresser doesn't know what she's doing or perhaps she have given up trying to please her clients? I guess the old 'the customer is always right' isn't something she follows.

    Sorry about your hand. I can't imagine going through that. It sounds like hell.

    Two months to fix a door? Maybe you should ask for half a refund for taking so long?

    I have no idea what automatic clutch is as I don't drive and I'm rarely inside cars but I imagine any parts of a car that needs repair is always costly and time consuming but maybe it's worth it? I don't know. At least, you got it fixed.

    Thanks for linking my posts. I do hope people enjoy them or get something out of them.

    Good rants. Or should I not compliment you on that? Some days, it would be nice to have everything go right but then, where would we get the material to write a blog post on? I don't know if having a blog makes me think this way or perhaps I'm a little weird in thinking this. But seeing how everyone share their lives on the web, it's not so strange, right?

    Have a lovely day.

    1. I didn't know you had a similar experience as mine with your blog! Yeah, if only they gave us an explanation or something. At least they did give us our blogs back - not like a certain social media account (Twitter, I'm looking at you 🤬).

      My hairdresser THINKS she knows what she's doing, that's the problem. Or she acts like it. I suppose I'm the only person she knows that wants her hair done in a certain way, so I'm also the only one complaining.

      The hand issue isn't so bad - I only have to avoid bending my thumb LOL. It helps that I'm not left-handed...

      An automatic clutch is a device that switches gears, as opposed to a manual clutch where you use a pedal to do that. My husband is an amputee in his right leg, so his car comes with only the brake and accelerator pedals, and they are both on his good leg's side. He wouldn't be able to work a third pedal.

      "Some days, it would be nice to have everything go right but then, where would we get the material to write a blog post on?"
      Haha, that's right. Most of our posts (I don't mean yours and mine, I mean in general) are of the venting-out type. Thank goodness for blogging.

  7. Awwh, sorry to hear about your blog scare! What is with this year, making blogging suddenly more difficult and stressful than it's ever been? I'm so sorry to hear you're struggling with your hair too. Certain aspects of appearance are expressions of who we are inside, as you said, and I think hair salons are one place where you do get a say in how someone does their job. It's your hair, and being responsive to what people want is a big part of that job. Sending good thoughts for your surgery and a quick recovery! 💛

    1. "What is with this year, making blogging suddenly more difficult and stressful than it's ever been?"
      You would know, uh? 😉 It's been a weird year for sure, in between blogger, Tumblr...and Twitter. I hope it's over, but then they go and change some stupid feature and we're in a jam again.

      "It's your hair, and being responsive to what people want is a big part of that job."
      It should be...but I suppose that, when someone isn't able to replicate/achieve what you want, they will never admit that they're doing something wrong, or try a different approach. They've done something for X years, they'll keep doing it that way. But it's beyond ridiculous that my hairdresser can't tell a straight lock from a curly one (or she pretends she can't?). I probably should try someone else, but I need to know what to expect before I do. I'll keep an ear out...

      Thank you hon!

  8. Thank you for sharing my post, Roberta! It does seem like the past couple of months had its ups and downs for you. Thankfully you are able to tweet again, but all the hassle when you rely on social media accounts can be so stressful.

    Your hair debacle sounds interesting! I've never permed my hair but I have naturally curly hair and I know just how hard it is to maintain. I know it's hard to find a hairdresser that is just a perfect fit. I go to my mother's cousin because at this point, she's the only one who understands me lol. But hopefully your hair sorts itself out.

    1. More downs than ups LOL. Yeah, the Twitter debacle was unnerving to say the least, but losing my blog would have been a disaster!

      You're lucky to have a family member who does your hair! and an understanding one at that.

  9. So I missed....a lot lol

    I cna't even believe the blogger thing. Yikes.

    I used to get perms in the 70's-80's too and had the same top of the hair flop. The sides and back would stay permed for almost a year. I was talking to my current stylist who is young (I think 30's?) and she doesn't even do perms. She sends people to the beauty school of they want one. It does sound like a problem with them but I also read that as we get older it's harder for the solution to take and not every hair will perm anymore.

    I read about trigger finger a few months ago while I was investigating my own finger cramping lol Sometimes I will bend it and it just gets stuck there for a few minutes. Gotta love getting old.

    Karen @For What It's Worth

    1. See? Young hairdressers don't even want to do perms 😭. I don't know if it's because it's not a trend anymore or because it's too much hassle.

      "It does sound like a problem with them but I also read that as we get older it's harder for the solution to take and not every hair will perm anymore."
      It may be, but the fact is, I've seen the change the very first time I went to the new hairdresser's...plus it's not a general hair issue - it takes somewhere and doesn't take somewhere else...and not always in the same places. A friend who used to work in a salon even told me that 20' isn't necessarily the time limit for the solution to take - they used to leave it on for longer if the hair required more time. Anyhow, I'm miserable 😭.

      It does sound like you're in the first stage of trigger finger (though for instance, mine got stuck all in a day LOL. Plus mine does the opposite - it doesn't want to bend anymore). Anyhow, it might be worth investigating, before it gets worse. Maybe they could suggest cortisone shots if it's still at an early stage.

  10. "More reading, less stress. It's been glorious." I've been doing the same thing lately! After years of long reviews, I'm just not feeling it anymore and it's been much nicer not having to try and find the words to say. (Of course, it probably helps I've been reading WAY more than years past, but I think that's partially because I'm out of school now.)

    OMG no that's a horror story and every blogger's worst nightmare - having their blog removed. Not gonna lie, but that happened to me as well for an entirely different reason and it took an entire week to get it back... which is why I'm now paranoid enough to then add a backup account as an admin JUST IN CASE that was pulled on me again (logically speaking, if there's another owner, they can't remove it, can they??? But it never happened again, thankfully, and that habit still exists to this day). Long story short, I'm happy you got your blog back! I would've been devastated to find another blogger who started around the same time as me just disappear. 😭 I also can't imagine starting over??? All that hard work, just gone - I think I would've quit in rage by then. Or maybe just start over anyway since no one can see all my posts from way back in the day when I was practically a child...

    1. I don't remember your blog being offline...when did it happen? It sounds like every one of us is at some crazy algorithm's mercy.

      "I also can't imagine starting over??? All that hard work, just gone - I think I would've quit in rage by then. Or maybe just start over anyway since no one can see all my posts from way back in the day when I was practically a child..."
      I would definitely have started over, though I can't imagine it either. But I would feel so lonely without blogging. And all your old posts are fine - we still love them 😉.

  11. I had a similar thing happen with Blogger a little while back - not the whole blog, but several of my most recent posts. I think they've been having some admin. issues or something. My immediate response to things like that is that *I* must've done something wrong, so when the posts got restored almost immediately, it was such a relief! I briefly got ads suspended on an older post - I think AdSense's system confused 'adult content' with 'LGBTQ+' which I'm told is something that happens a lot on YouTube - but luckily my appeal was upheld :)

    Thank you so much for linking my post! That's so sweet of you! :) <3

    1. We never know if we're at fault (at least in their eyes), and even if we aren't, once they decide we did something wrong, we're goners. I got my old Twitter hacked and subsequently locked up, and my appeal was rejected, with no way to reiterate, so I had to make a new one.

      "I think AdSense's system confused 'adult content' with 'LGBTQ+'"
      That's just...wrong 😬.

      Hey, that post of yours was good 👍.

  12. Your fall has been too eventful Roberta! That's also wild that blogger would decide to delete a blog without do its proper due diligence.

    I get it about the hair! After I stopped breast feeding I started losing a bit of hair and the texture feels different. I feel like a different person!

    1. "That's also wild that blogger would decide to delete a blog without do its proper due diligence."
      Thank goodness they just "froze" it for a while - and it wasn't even a conscious decision, but something the algorithm did. Still - I just about had a heart attack LOL.

      "After I stopped breast feeding I started losing a bit of hair and the texture feels different. I feel like a different person!"
      😭 I hope it will change back when it grows! I guess it's a temporary hormonal effect...


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